Solitude is not loneliness, which is what we feel when we want company around us and don’t have it. Solitude is chosen. It is how we recover connection with our spirit that we lose in the rush of everyday life. Solitude gives us a breather, taking us away from the chatter and rush and obligations that can sometimes inundate us. It exists when we spend time with our inner self in a serene place. That can be a place of meditation, a walk in the woods, a retreat we attend, a sudden decision to take a drive in our car without a specific destination, or sitting somewhere near a body of water. In each of these ways we can become more connected to the natural world around us, which is eternally present. We can watch leaves blow in the wind on a summer’s day, or waves falling gently on the shore, or visit a museum in the city on a rainy afternoon.
Solitude gives us a chance to know silence, which can be a healer of worry and stress. For a little while we are not responsible for other people and obligations – only to ourselves.
Certain locations lend themselves to giving us the peace of solitude in very different ways. In the suggestions here, see which ones appeal to you most. The ones you choose will be the places that bring you the best experience, because your spirit, your inner self, is already aligned with them.
In Europe there are hundreds of abbey ruins. Either because of invaders or by a king’s decree, the monasteries of the past were constantly looted and destroyed. What was left were shells of stone buildings. And yet now, walking through those ruins, you see the grass is green and flowers have grown on the banks of streams nearby, and the stones themselves seem to hold some ancient wisdom. An hour spent wandering through such an abbey on your own rests the spirit and stops the incessant stream of thoughts. Instead, time seems to expand.
One such abbey is in the U.K. – Whitby, in North Yorkshire. This was a site of great learning in the Anglo-Saxon era, and it had a superb library. The stones have survived Viking marauders and the Dissolution by Henry VIII. Being there on a windswept hill, you sense its history, and also feel its utter peacefulness.